EZ as a Word Processor

In this article, Terry Gliedt introduces us to the Andrew project, and gives us a taste of one aspect of it: the ez editor, which can edit text and graphics, and can be used as a word processor.

If you work for a few minutes without saving, ez will automatically save for you. You can tell this is happening when the message line at the bottom suddenly shows “Checkpointing...” and then “Checkpointed”. The file is written to a separate file named like the original filename except “.CKP” is appended. Thus if you edit test.d, the checkpoint file will be test.d.CKP. When you use the “Save” command, your original file is replaced with the new version and the checkpoint file is removed.

EZ Magic

It is important to understand that the word processing files created by ez have their own distinctive format, just like your favorite commercial word processors. This format was conveniently designed from the start to allow ez documents to be sent via conventional electronic mail systems.

This format is the “magic” that allows ez to be so simple. The data quite literally defines what can be done to it. As the data is read, programs that match the data are automatically loaded for you. ez is not a single program, but a group of programs that can cooperate with each other, each of which knows how to manipulate a certain type of object. If ez reads a document with text in it, the text-editing program edits the text object. If ez reads a document with a bitmap (picture), the bitmap-editing program edits the bitmap object. If your document has several different objects, all the different programs cooperate to edit the objects.

However, you need to do more than edit your documents. You need to print them and send them to other people, both electronically and on paper. Therefore, filters have been written to convert AUIS documents to several different formats. To print your documents, you can convert them to PostScript. To exchange documents with people running other word processing systems, you can convert them to RTF format, the most common document interchange format. You can even convert your documents to straight ASCII, though of course all your fonts and pictures will be lost.


One of the simplest things you can do with ez is to add styles to a document. Styles appear as menu items. If you look at the menus, you will find quite a few styles can be chosen. In Figure 1 you can see some of the more common styles—italics, bold, centered, or left/right justified, and various font sizes to name a few.

Most styles can co-exist peacefully—italics and bold make bold-italics. Others cancel each other out—like center and right-justify text. Some styles you can apply more than once—changing font sizes can be done by successive applications of bigger. To remove a style, select and area and chose the Plainer (F7) menu item. To remove all styles, choose the Plainest (F8) menu item. You can see what styles have been applied by placing the cursor at some point in your document and then entering “Esc-s” (press the escape key and then press the “s” key). In the message area at the bottom of the screen you will see a description of the styles that apply at that point.


In Figure 1 you can see our document has two types of data—conventional text and a small picture. Tech-nically each of these are insets to ez. An inset is just a piece of data (an object) that has been inserted within some other data (other object). An inset behaves exactly as if it were a separate document. The only difference is that it may not have scrollbars.

Figure 3. Sample Footnote and Header Insets

ez can be configured so that when a file is to be created, a certain inset will be the default. For instance, if you invoke ez on a file called test.d or test.doc, the menus will contain the text inset with menu items you need for writing a paper like this one. Of course, once the file has been created, ez will automatically use the insets indicated by the data itself. Similarly, editing a file called test.ras results in the raster inset being created. Editing test.html results in an html inset being created.

To create a new inset in a text document, move the cursor to where you want the inset to exist and select an item from the “Media” menu (or press Esc-Tab). In Figure 1, I selected the “raster” inset. The causes a raster object to be created, initially appearing as an empty box. Many insets (but not all) allow other insets to be embedded in them. After adding a raster inset, you are editing two documents—each with different attributes. Which “editor” (object) has control is based on where the cursor is positioned. In this example if you click in the raster box, the menu cards will change to those of the raster program. Click in the text area outside the box and the text menus return.